Dog licking their paws is usually an ordinary part of a dogs day to day routine. However, it is important to note that when this keeps occurring, it could be an indication of discomfort caused by:
- Allergies in the form of food allergies or atopy
- Diseases such as chronic arthritis
- Parasite invasion e.g. manga mites, pesky fleas and so on
- An indication of an injury e.g. a broken nail
- Obsessive/Compulsive disorder
- Habit or boredom
If nothing is done about this, the licking can becomes chronic. Chronic paw licking can lead to hair loss, extensive skin damage, open sores, and bacterial infections on the feet and toes. As a result of the damaged skin part being painful and irritated, the dog could lead to more licking and chewing, which leads to greater loss. Steps should, therefore, be put in place to stop the habit before its too late for the dog.
Dog Licking Paws The Solution
1. Redirect the attention of the dog to something else
If the licking is caused by habit and or boredom and is chronic, it is important to redirect the attention of the dog into something else. Any time your dog starts licking his paws, distract his attention by calling him, taking him for walks or giving him a toy to play with. The more the dogs mind is kept occupied, the more the dog will forget his boredom and will, therefore, not have to lick it off. Hitting and yelling should be avoided at all cost.
2. Take the dog to a vet
Once you notice your dog licking his paws, take him to a vet to determine the cause and eliminate any possibilities of it being an allergic reaction. The vet gives a food trial that is supposed to relieve the symptoms. If the licking persists, the possibility of the licking being caused by an allergic reaction can then, be ruled out. If an allergic is the cause, allergy injections should be administered to curb the problem. The cause of the allergy, when determined should be eliminated from the dogs environment to prevent a re-occurrence of the same problem.
The vet should also be able to rule out the possibilities of infections and disease and administer proper medication in cases where an infection or disease cause the licking. In the cases of parasite invasion, the vet will prescribe oils that kill the parasites and help soothe the dog. It is also important to inspect the paws in order to ensure that a stone or nail is not stuck in your dog’s paw. If that’s the cause, assist your dog to remove the obstruction from their paw.
3. Exercise the dog
Dogs are naturally meant to be active animals. When they are not able to get enough exercise, their natural pain killers the endorphins, fall below the acceptable normal level range. The result of this can be obsessive/compulsive behavior, depression, and paw licking. It is, therefore, important to allocate exercise time for the dog. Your dog should be taken for walks regularly or given adequate time to exercise alone. If possible, the dog should be taken to a dog park and allowed to socialize with other dogs. Ensure your dog is too tired at the end of each day. This process will eventually make them forget all about paw licking.
4. Give the dog a massage
A massage is an important relief technique. It leaves the dog feeling good and stimulates the brain of the dog to produce neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters act as a natural anti-depressant for dogs and relieve any stress related symptoms. The massage should be done on every inch of the dogs body as this helps enhance muscle growth in your dogs shoulders which is important for their overall development.
5. Show understanding and love to the dog
Dogs have an ability to detect their owners emotions. Its, therefore, important for the dog to feel that you understand and want to help. The dog should not get the impression that you are mad at them. Increased attention and interactions with the dog are encouraged. Adequate interaction with your dog will determine how good he will feel. Try to teach him new tricks despite his age and give him chores to carry out. The dogs esteem is raised as he tries to please you and at the same time he will be exercising his mind. With time, the dog forgets about licking his paws.
By following the steps outlined above, your dogs paw licking habits will eventually become a thing of the past. You should, however, be patient with your dog as they will be tempted to lick their paw from time to time. The more understanding and supportive you are, the faster he will give up on the habit.